Why I Watch Reality TV With My Kids

It's become our era's family viewing

Photo-Illustration by Sean McCabe for TIME

Thirteen summers ago, when a pair of shows called Survivor and Big Brother debuted on CBS, there were uneasy cries that reality TV was going to coarsen our civilization. Contestants were encouraged to lie and backstab one another! People were eating actual rats! Won't someone think of the children?

You can debate how well, by 2013, reality TV has fulfilled its potential as a hell-bound handbasket. But I do know this: when the regular TV season ended in May and the summer-premiere season started, it was an exciting time at home, because it meant MasterChef was coming back, and my wife...

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